The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has charged its Electoral Officers (EOs) to offer views and criticisms on the recent general elections, saying no poll is perfect.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call at the 2019 Post-Election Review session with EOs from 19 states, on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the commission was open to criticisms on the elections from stakeholders, especially the EOs who were not just members of the commission, but took active part in the conduct of the exercises.
Criticisms on the elections would help to improve the country’s electoral process.
“Please, feel free to advise the commission. Where we need to be criticised or criticise ourselves, please do so.
“I consistently say that friends will criticise you, but your enemies will condemn you. But criticism is the basis to make any system work.
“No democracy, no electoral process is perfect. Every democracy is work-in-progress.
“So, feel free to suggest, advise on all issues relating to conduct of elections, on the whole gamut.
“And, you have the protection of the chairman that whatever you say will not be held against you,” he said.
Yakubu commended the EOs for their contributions by carrying out the mandates of the commission.
These, according to him, include registration of voters, monitoring of political parties activities and conduct of elections.
“Preparation for general elections, movement of staff, opening of Polling Units (PUs), co-ordination of PUs activities on election days, reverse logistics, all these activities are heavily dependent on the works of EOs.
“Anything that anybody can say about the conduct of elections in Nigeria is secondary to the kind of information we are going to hear from those who truly conduct elections at levels that matter – the polling units.”
In his remark, Dr Mustafa Lecky, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Planning, Monitoring and Strategy Committee, said that the review was aimed at broadening evaluate the conduct of the 2019 elections and help to learn vital lessons.
Lecky said that the review would also afford the commission opportunity to review its policies and programmes during the last elections, which would serve as a roadmap to 2023 general elections.
“This process is essentially a sort of SWOT analysis, involving identification of our strengths, performance, weaknesses or lapses, opportunities missed or taken.
“This also includes impediments, bottlenecks and/or threats uncovered across all the processes before, during and the fallouts since the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
“The commission is aiming to be comprehensive in its attempts to review all the issues connected to the general elections.
“This is from preparation through execution and its aftermath, hence the review timetable and schedule of activities has provided for consultations at multi-levels,” Lecky said.
The national commissioner said that template for the review covered no fewer than seven thematic areas, ranging from Registration Areas Centre (RAC) preparation to election day activities.
The Programme Coordinator, European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, Maria Mauro, described EOs as one of the most important stakeholders in elections.
Mauro commended INEC for taking deep commitment to reviewing the 2019 general elections, adding that the template the commission was using for the review would offer great outcome for improving the electoral process in Nigeria.